The North Carolina Tar Heels opened the 2006 season with a convincing win over the Ohio State Buckeyes, 14-5. The game took place at a neutral site in Baltimore, MD - Calvert Hall College High School. True freshman Bart Wagner and redshirt freshman Michael Burns led the way for Carolina with 5 (3g, 2a) and 6 points (3g,3a) respectively. Junior Trey Sheain contributed 11 saves for the Tarheels as the anchor to a defense that shut down the Ohio State offense for nearly the entire game. For the Buckeyes, sophomore Kevin Buchanan contributed 2 of their 5 goals.
North Carolina jumped out to a 6-0 lead and didn’t look back, not allowing Ohio State’s 1st goal until there was 1:14 remaining in the first half. The first three goals came off of Michael Burns assists. The redshirt freshman was granted another year of eligibility, despite playing in the first game of the season last year, due to medical hardship. Today’s game may shed some light on the future, as Burns will likely be a mainstay for this attack for the next four years, along with starter and true freshman Wagner.
North Carolina’s fourth goal came off a nice play in the midfield by Kyle Henderson. He made a nice move to get out of trouble on the clear, pushed into transition where Nick Tintle fed Ryan Blair, who finished the unsettled opportunity. Tintle followed that up a minute later with a left-to-right split dodge to a drive down the right side. He put away the right handed shot stretching the Tar Heel lead to 5. UNC’s final goal of the half came off a textbook offensive display. Another freshman, Bobby McAuley, drove and drew the slide. He dumped a pass right over the slide to Bart Wagner who put it away. Ohio State answered off the face-off as Eric O’Brien won it to himself and fed Craig Nolan. Nolan finally got the Buckeyes on the board, sending the game to the half at 6-1, North Carolina.
The second half was basically a continuation of the Carolina dominance. Michael Burns pushed an unsettled situation from a clear and notched his 1st goal of the day less than a minute in. Two minutes later sophomore middie Brian Connors drove down the left side and ripped a shot. OSU goalie Drew May made the save, but Bart Wagner was there for the rebound to complete his hat trick for the day. The Buckeye response came from junior middie Jason Lutz who drove down the left side beating Sheain stick-side low hugging the pipe.
North Carolina reeled off another three goals before the third quarter ended entering the fourth with a commanding 11-2 lead. The fourth quarter turned out to be a 3-3 draw, with two of Ohio State’s goals coming on man-up opportunities.
Ultimately, North Carolina controlled the aspects needed to be successful. They outshot Ohio State, 39-29; they had 45 groundballs to Ohio State’s 28; and they held the always important edge in face-offs, winning 13 out of 23.
“Honestly, I thought we had a pretty good preseason. Today was really going to be the first test for us. Ohio State has a great team, a great coach. I liked the way we played hard for 60 minutes. We got groundballs, we did the little things and I think that helped us today,” said North Carolina head coach John Haus. “It’s one game, but today we shot the ball pretty well. I think we’re very unselfish. We spread it around, we had different guys scoring for us. A lot of that too is due to the defense getting the ball on the ground, and then we were able to get it across and have a few transition goals.”
On areas that need improvement: “Man-down defense, we didn’t play well there. Clearing the ball, we’ve gotta continue to get better in that area. I thought there were teams that defensively we got spread out. After one game, we have a lot of things to work on, so we’ll build on this one. We have a big challenge next weekend with two games in two days,” added Haus, noting the difficulty they face next weekend in traveling to Denver to face Air Force next Saturday and then Denver on Sunday.
Before North Carolina fans get too excited, the win must be kept in context. The Tarheels have started the last eight consecutive seasons with an opening day win. They did the same last year before going through a spell that saw some very tough, close losses. It is a good sign, however, as a lot of the cast from the 5-8 team from a year ago gained some much needed experience and a talent pool of new faces seem ready to push them back up the rankings.
Ohio State looked like what you’d expect a team to look on February 18th: talented but rough around the edges. There were a few clears and transition situations, where they simply threw the ball away, sans pressure and sans focus. Little things like that will need to improve, and do so quickly as they take on #6 Navy next Friday. The talent was there on both sides of the ball, it seems to be a matter of keeping the focus and improving on the fundamentals. Ohio State had some very athletic midfielders and longpoles that if they come together as units can be dangerous.
|Michael Burns||(3, 3)|
|Bart Wagner||(3, 2)|
|Nick Tintle||(2, 1)|
|Bobby Mcauley||(2, 1)|
|Ryan Blair||(2, 0)|
|Dave Werry||(0, 1)|
|Shane Walterhoefer||(0, 1)|
|Sean Link||(1, 0)|
|Kyle Henderson||(1, 0)|
|Trey Sheain||11 (0.688)|